BJP Lok Sabha member Menaka Gandhi’s NGO, the International Organisation for Animal Protection (OIPA) is the first to protest the proposal for relaxing rule to facilitate hunting of the two wildlife species.
While the forest minister floated the proposal as an effort to check damage of crops from rising population of wild boars and blue bulls, the OIPA dubbed it a strategy to benefit the private forest lodge operators who have clients from Middle East and other countries.
“Earlier the forest department trans-located tigers and other wild animals from one reserve to another for the benefit of forest lodges, resorts and hotels, now it wants to permit hunting for the same purpose” says Naresh Kadyan, OIPA representative in India.
The minister is influenced by the tourism lobby, he alleged. However, Sartaj Singh said there was nothing new in the proposal. “I have made some amendments in the existing rules which are in existence for the last 12 years,” he said.
The minister has proposed the Centre to allow hunting of blue bulls and wild boars on condition of registration of hunters and collection of fees. “The hunter, who kills the animal, can keep it after paying a stipulated fee,” Singh said. The minister also told the DNA that farmers have been facing heavy loss of crops because of these animals which are in abundance in the state.“As the farmers are not trained in hunting, we want to engage skilled hunters. Only registered hunters would be allowed to hunt” he said.
The proposal has been sent to the State law department. Sartaj Singh also pointed out that farmers and MLAs of the state had been demanding this for long. The state government had permitted hunting blue bull and wild boars causing damage to crops in 2000 after due permission from the local Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM), nobody sought such a permission so far.